How do you pay for probate when you have no money for an estate that is basically just a house and land w/no outstanding debt?

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How do you pay for probate when you have no money for an estate that is basically just a house and land w/no outstanding debt?

My father passed away in March, at 65, due to complications from pancreatic cancer. I am his only living heir and he had no will. He had no outstanding debt; no loans, no credit cards and his house and almost 10 acres of land are fully paid for. I lost my job in Dec 07 and decided this was the time to finish my schooling. I am now a full time student with my husband supporting our family of 4. We have just enough to pay the bills and get by. I need to get my dad’s assets in my name so I can sell the property and move on with my life. I live in Indiana and he lived in Texas so the distance is not helping this process. I spoke to one attorney and he said that I would have to retain him and pay for the costs for legal fees and court costs during the probate process. I do not have the extra money to make these payments. I don’t know what to do. There is a house and land in Texas that was appraised at almost 300K and I cannot start the sale until I pay thousands of dollars of which I do not have. What do people do in these situations? His name is also one of 3 on the mineral rights to this land also. There has been a increase of small oil wells popping up in North Texas and I would like to not miss out on any possibilities there either. Most places I called said it would cost me $20 on a credit card just to speak to an attorney for up to 30 minutes in Tarrant County, Tx. I can’t take out a loan or put these fees on a credit card nor can I barrow from any friends and family as many of them are suffering during this economic downturn. Could you please give me some advice on what to do or where to start?

Asked on June 11, 2009 under Estate Planning, Indiana

Answers:

N. K., Member, Iowa and Illinois Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

 Under Texas law, individuals applying for letters testamentary, letters of administration, determinations of heirship, and guardianships of the person or estate must be represented by a licensed attorney. Since your father lived in Texas, probate will probably have to take place there.

I would search for "legal aid services" in Texas. If online, enter "legal aid services in Texas" in your search engine. You could then find out if they can refer you to an attorney that could represent you for free or very low cost in Texas.

Here is another website that can help you find free or low-cost legal assistance: http://www.texaslawhelp.org/TX/index.cfm.


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